Dogs are indeed one of the most popular pets around the world. They are loving and loyal, and our pets become part of the family.

This coming lunar new year, we will usher in the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese zodiac. Let’s have a look at some local Malaysian celebrities and artistes – and their dogs.

Actress, singer and songwriter Chelsia Ng has a female Telomian dog named Lara – an acronym for Love A Rescued Animal.

(The Telomian is Malaysia’s native dog breed.)

The three-year-old white pooch with pointy ears and a blue tongue suffers from severe separation anxiety. However, she is good-natured and also makes an excellent watchdog.

“She is both my baby girl and my guardian,” Ng says.

“I enjoy going out into the garden with her in the late evenings where the both of us would sit side-by-side on the porch and look up at the stars.”

From frightened to friendly

Model, actress, TV host and brand ambassador Amber Chia has a Golden Retriever named Kelly.

Kelly was given to her by a friend.

Chia remembers vividly the very first time she laid eyes on Kelly, 12. Such a timid dog she was. But over the years, she has overcome that and has grown to become the friendly dog that she is now.

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Chia with her dog Kelly. She remembers how Kelly has grown from being timid to friendly, over the years. Photo: Amber Chia

“Kelly is such a loving dog! She loves the entire family, including my son and the maid,” says Chia.

“I used to have a pet Poodle, and Kelly was very close to her. When the Poodle died, Kelly was so sad that she cried. In fact, her eyes were red as a result of the crying … she was so sad to lose her friend,” recalls Amber Chia.

Apart from being a good friend, Kelly is also a cheeky dog. She likes chasing cats for the fun of it but won’t hurt them at all. “She just loves the thrill of it,” Chia says.

Rescued and loved

Animal rights activist and Miss World Malaysia 2009, Thanuja Ananthan has a mongrel named Kaya and a German Shepherd called Sassy. Both are rescue dogs, as were Sheeba and Nala, who have since gone to doggie heaven.

Sassy was six months old when she was rescued from a jungle in Kajang.

“Sassy and her mother were living in filthy conditions, with barely any food. I rescued her five siblings and their mother and found good homes for them all,” says Thanuja.

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Thanuja and her dogs. Photo: Facebook/Thanuja Ananthan

While most people spend their Sundays with their families, Thanuja reserves this day for her pets.

An unforgettable moment that Thanuja remembers till now was when Kaya once jumped onto the dining table and ate the entire family’s home-cooked lunch. “We were really shocked at first, but later we could laugh about it.”

Fun times with the Schnauzers

Former beauty queen, actress, film and television producer, and animal rights activist Datuk Nancie Foo adores her two dogs: Portia and Bentley Junior, both Schnauzers. While Portia is gentle and laid-back, Bentley Jr is more domineering and has a mind of his own.

“During obedience classes, Portia is very obedient as she heeds commands such as sit, stay, and walk. Bentley Jr, however, is a selective listener and only obeys those commands that he likes – and sometimes not at all,” says Foo.

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Foo’s pets are very well-behaved as they go to obedience class. Photo: Nancie Foo

These Schnauzers love it when Foo and her daughters take them out for walks. This is also the time to refresh what the dogs have learned in obedience class.

Like most other dogs, Portia and Bentley Junior patiently wait for their master to return home each day. “They always bark with excitement when they see me coming home.” she says.

Loves to be pampered

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Chong thinks his dog Logan is so manja as he likes to be massaged. Photo: Alvin Chong

Pop singer Alvin Chong remembers the time when he brought his Pomeranian, Logan, to the vet for a leg injury.

Logan was given an anaesthetic – and it was a nerve-wrecking moment! Chong wasn’t sure if Logan would come out alive.

After two to three hours, Logan gained consciousness and was soon back to his hyperactive self.

Pomeranians are generally energetic, but Logan is quite the opposite – he’s usually quiet and would only bark when there are people at the door.

“Logan loves to be massaged and have his back rubbed. He is such a manja dog,” says Chong.

Birthday present

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Prema says her dog, Sasha, sometimes surprises her with presents of small critters. Photo: Prema Yin

Pop/rock singer-musician Prema Yin received a very thoughtful gift from her friend on her birthday in 2007 – a little puppy.

Now 11 years old, Sasha – a Jack Russell mix – is cute, quiet and a good hunter, describes Prema.

“She has hunting instincts, and often gives me ‘presents’ – rats, lizards, and so on. She is in her element when she hunts, just like a fox,” she adds. “She herself is not that big but once she caught a huge rat! And she’s very chill and doesn’t freak out during a storm,” says Prema. In that way, she is fearless.

“When the ‘old newspaper’ man makes his rounds in the neighbourhood, Sasha would whimper and start ‘singing’.”

“My favourite activity with Sasha is walking and hanging out with her, like a friend. She also likes to come and sit next to me and have my undivided attention.”

 

Dancing to the music

Actress and model Sangeeta Krishnasamy owns a five-year old Shih Tzu, Bobby. He was given to her by a friend who was leaving the country.

“He is the most loving thing that I’ve ever seen, and he doesn’t like it when attention is not given to him or if I don’t give him a tummy rub,” Sangeeta says.

If there is one talent that Bobby has, it would be dancing!

“He sometimes sits in front of the television and if music comes on that he likes, he will move to the beat,” says Sangeeta.

She hopes that dog lovers would be more open to the idea of adopting dogs rather than buying them.

Centre of attention

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Tan thinks her pet pooches, Bambi and Angel, are the most adorable babies in the world. Photo: Talitha Tan

“I’ve got two – Bambi and Angel – and they’re about four years old now. Both are sisters,” says Talitha Tan about her pets.

“They’re rescue dogs that my mum brought home.”

The bubbly and petite singer-songwriter says her dogs are loving and, at times, over-excited. They like to be pampered, showing “a constant muka kesian (pitiful look).”

Of course, she showers them with love, and enjoys cuddling and patting them. “I also like to going for a run with them, although running with two dogs can be a bit hard,” she quips.

Her pets’ good looks are what Tan likes most about them. “They’re the most adorable-looking babies in the world!” she says.

One big, happy family

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Cheong and his dog, Shimani. Rescuing and adopting dogs is second nature to him. Photo: Ray Cheong

Ray Cheong is a singer/songwriter and guitarist who performs jazz, folk, blues, rock and soul numbers. He has just about as many dogs to match the musical genres that he specialises in. There’s Angel, Foxy and Peanut – all mongrels – and Shimani, a Shih Tzu.

Angel and Foxy were born at Cheong’s home. Sadly, their mother Munchy, whom his family adopted from a shelter, died a few months after their birth.

Both the offspring are very protective and make good guard dogs. However, being more stern, Angel is the leader of the pack, while Foxy is gentle and acts like a “mother” to the other dogs at home.

Peanut was a day old when she was adopted from the neighbourhood vet. “She is super-possessive and, maybe due to her size, has lower self-esteem and tends to snap or get into fights if she is annoyed,” says Cheong.

Adopting dogs and rescuing strays come naturally to this dog-lover. Shimani was found wandering about on the road, during a storm. She was partially blind, and showed signs of having been abused. Cheong’s family readily took her in, too.

“Shimani is the lucky one – she gets to stay indoors. She is super-playful and walks about as though she is the biggest dog in the room,” says Cheong.

The best part about having dogs? “I love how forgiving they are. I don’t pay as much attention or spend as much time with them as I used to, but they are forever eager and welcoming with their smiles and wagging tails. No matter how bad my day is, I do get welcomed home with the purest form of joy – every single day, every single time.”

What a blessing!

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Victor and her pet, Adobo. Photo: Joy Victor

Named after a famous Filipino dish, Adobo the dog is a mixed breed. His mum is a Shih Tzu and his dad, a street dog.

“He turns 10 this April,” says his owner, Joy Shavini Victor, the lead singer of the band 9 Lives. “He was named by my boyfriend’s late dad – Salvador Guerzo, who is Filipino.”

The 37-year-old singer adopted her pet in 2008 when she was living in Langkawi. Adobo was actually born in Koh Lipe in Thailand where most stray dogs are not neutered.

Victor’s favourite dog-time activity is simply “lounging together on the couch, with him snuggled next to me while I watch TV and relax. We also play Hide and Seek – I hide, he seeks”.

She indulges him by giving him some cheese – his favourite snack – every night before bedtime.

“He has been such a blessing. If I could chose any breed, any dog, any temperament – I’d still choose him all over again.”